The Communist Party’s rule over Tibet has ensured religious freedom in the region and overseen “orderly” implementation of the reincarnation system used to choose the Tibetan spiritual leader, Beijing said in a white paper released on Wednesday.

The document, released by the State Council’s Information Office, comes as Beijing has tightened security in Tibet, closing it off to foreign journalists and diplomats ahead of the 60th anniversary of the 14th Dalai Lama’s exile from Lhasa after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Titled “Democratic Reform in Tibet – Sixty Years On”, the white paper also marked a “subtle shift” in the central government’s attitude towards the Dalai Lama, a Beijing-based commentator said.

The document details Beijing’s policy on Tibet under President Xi Jinping, a policy has shifted from a willingness to engage with the Dalai Lama to a policy of “a great leap to socialist system” under Chinese Communist Party’s rule.

“Tibet has fully implemented the ethnic policy of the Communist Party of China to enhance the awareness of ethnic solidarity and the sense of community of the Chinese nation, and strengthen ethnic communication and integration,” it said.

“By abolishing serfdom, a grim and backward feudal system, Tibet was able to establish a new social system that liberated the people and made them the masters of the nation and society, thus ensuring their rights in all matters.”

The paper also said the central government had further institutionalised the reincarnation process of “living Buddhas”, enshrined in the “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism” guideline published 12 years ago.

The Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has been one of the most contentious issues between the exiled Tibetan leader and the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama says his next incarnation could be found in India. Photo: Reuters
The Dalai Lama says his next incarnation could be found in India. Photo: Reuters

Last week, the Dalai Lama, which Beijing has called a dangerous separatist, said it was possible that once he died his incarnation could be found in India, where he has lived in exile since 1959. The 83-year-old Nobel peace laureate also warned that any successor named by Beijing would not be respected.

His comments drew immediate criticism from Beijing, which insisted that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama “must comply with Chinese laws and regulations”.

In Beijing on Wednesday, deputy governor of Tibet Norbu Dondrup said those who criticised China over human rights in Tibet had been “bewitched” by the Dalai Lama and harboured “ulterior motives”.

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He also said the Dalai Lama had no right to talk about the human rights situation in Tibet.

Beijing-based commentator on Tibetan affairs Jiang Zhaoyong said the Dalai Lama’s “changing attitude towards incarnation” was seen as a source of uncertainty in the region’s stability.

“The Chinese government is also no longer emphasising that it is keeping the door open to engagement with the Dalai Lama. And that is a change from the previous position,” Jiang said.

In a white paper released on the 50th anniversary in 2009, Beijing said the “central government has opened and will always keep its door open for the 14th Dalai Lama to return to a patriotic stand”.

But the white paper this year made no mention of engagement, focusing instead on how Beijing’s policies have expanded the region’s economy through rapid development in agriculture, fisheries and tourism.

Welfare for the local people had improved in the region, with access to free medical treatment, building water conservancy projects, and disaster rescue and relief, the paper said.